The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13229-017-0123-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Socio-emotional difficulties in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are thought to reflect impaired functional connectivity within the “social brain”. Nonetheless, a whole-brain characterization of the fast responses in functional connectivity during implicit processing of emotional faces in adults with ASD is lacking.
The present study used magnetoencephalography to investigate early responses in functional connectivity, as measured by interregional phase synchronization, during implicit processing of angry, neutral and happy faces. The sample (n = 44) consisted of 22 young adults with ASD and 22 age- and sex-matched typically developed (TD) controls.
Reduced phase-synchrony in the beta band around 300 ms emerged during processing of angry faces in the ASD compared to TD group, involving key areas of the social brain. In the same time window, de-synchronization in the beta band in the amygdala was reduced in the ASD group across conditions.
This is the first demonstration of atypical global and local synchrony patterns in the social brain in adults with ASD during implicit processing of emotional faces. The present results replicate and substantially extend previous findings on adolescents, highlighting that atypical brain synchrony during processing of socio-emotional stimuli is a hallmark of clinical sequelae in autism.
Additional file 1: Table S1. Significant NBS components for beta and gamma bands in ASD and TD group (active window vs. baseline). (DOCX 15 kb)13229_2017_123_MOESM1_ESM.docx
Additional file 2: Table S2. Within connectivity in the beta band: Number of connections for each AAL node within the significant NBS components. Nodes are ordered by the sum of the connections across groups and conditions (from the greater to the smaller value). (DOCX 18 kb)13229_2017_123_MOESM2_ESM.docx
Additional file 3: Table S3. Within connectivity in the gamma band: Number of connections for each AAL node within the significant NBS components. Nodes are ordered by the sum of the connections across groups and conditions (from the greater to the smaller value). (DOCX 22 kb)13229_2017_123_MOESM3_ESM.docx
Additional file 4: Figure S1. Time-frequency activation: Beta de-synchronization in the left lingual gyrus and insula. (TIF 1151 kb)13229_2017_123_MOESM4_ESM.tif
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